I must be the most unphotogenic person on the planet. I honestly don't understand it; I don't understand how pictures of me can be so consistently bad. Combine my face with the photographic capabilities of badge offices everywhere and the result is a series of disasters--badge pictures that make the pictures on my driver's license and passport look like fine portraiture.

Thursday I got a new badge, one I'd been hoping to get for a couple of years and was happy to wait in line for. I combed my hair before going into the office and even put on a touch of lipstick. I smiled for the camera. When the badge guy (the badger?) handed me the badge I took it happily, optimistically, then suffered a jolt when I looked at the picture: the horror, the horror. My eyes were huge dark pits of despair, my lips and teeth detectable only with imagination, obscured in the shadow of what appears to be a massive nose.

I went out to my car, flipped the visor down, and stared at myself in the small mirror to reassure myself that my face hadn't been transformed into a grotesque mask of doom during the half hour I'd spent cooling my heels in the badge office.

May 2009

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